Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Holme Moss & Isle of Skye Quarry

Holme Moss & Isle of Skye Quarry
Tuesday 12th June 2018

Peter Burton
Louise Hill
John Scott
Les Coe

The party met at the car park at Digley Reservoir for 10.30am.
There we were greeted by the calling of Cuckoo, Curlew and Oystercatcher announcing our arrival in the high moorland. The aim for the day was to reconnoiter potential sites for a South Yorkshire Botany Group visit in July. After planning the routes for the day with the leader, we set off to park alongside the Holme Moss Mast.

Holme Moss
We found the moors were very dry following a period of fine weather, making the trek through the heather and cotton-grass pleasant.

Cotton Grass - Eriphorum angustifolium

As we proceeded across the moorland, we found two species of Cotton-grass, Common Cotton-grass (Eriophorum angustifolium) and Hare’s-tail Cotton-grass (E. vaginatum), with a sheep grazed stump of Rowen (Sorbus aucuparia) nestling amongst the heather, as was on old Grouse nest that looked to have been predated as only egg shells and a whole egg remained.

Peter led us to a site where he knew the Stag's-horn Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum) grew. Also, at this site we found New Zealand Willowherb (Epilobium brunnescens), Procumbent Pearlwort (Sagina procumbens), Heath Rush (Juncus squarrosus) and Soft Rush (J. effusus).

Stag's-horn Clubmoss (Lycopodium clavatum)
Resuming our walk over the moor we came across Cross-leaved Heath (Erica tetralix), with sightings of Grouse, Swift and Golden Plover, the latter putting on a display of injured wing to try and draw us away from her nest or chicks. A visit was made to examine a solitary tree, thought to be a Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis) but it was difficult to be sure as it only had soft new growth. The old needles had probably been blasted off by the Beast from the East. We also found sheep grazed stumps of this species amongst the heather at various points throughout the walk. Common Polypody (Polypodium vulgare), and Narrow Buckler Ferns (Dryopteris carthusiana) were come across occasionally.

The walk meandered along the boundary of two counties, South Yorkshire and Derbyshire, and we came across boundary markers, in the form of concrete posts, set in the ground along the way. When we reached Wigley’s Cabin, and after admiring the expansive view over Hey Clough, towards Holme and Holmfirth, we started the return journey taking a slightly different course.

Wrigley's Cabin
A caterpillar of the Oak Eggar Moth, aka Northern Eggar (Lasiocampa quercus) was found and Small Heath Butterflies (Coenonympha pamphilus) flew amongst the Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), Cloudberrry (Rubus chamaemorus) with fruit, and Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos).

Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos)

A mountain Hare was flushed from its hiding place. Many Marsh Thistles (Cirsium palustre) inhabited the ground near to the mast as competition had been reduced due to the ground being regularly cleared of other vegetation by the maintenance teams for the mast.

Cloudberrry (Rubus chamaemorus
Next, we visited the Isle of Skye Quarry, situated on the A635 road on Wessenden Head Moor. Immediately our presence was noted by Curlews who strongly objected to this intrusion into their territory. One bird sat like a sentinel guarding the entrance to the quarry and vocalised its displeasure.

A sentinel Curlew

Bell Heather (Erica cinerea) in full flower, Heath Woodrush (Luzula multiflora) and Marsh Thistles (Cirsium palustre) were immediately discovered on entering the quarry. Southern Marsh Orchids (Dactylorhiza praetermissa), Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix-femina), Scaly Male Fern (Dryopteris affinis agg.), Broad Buckler Ferns (D. dilatata), Hard Fern (Blechnum spicant), New Zealand Willowherb (Epilobium brunnescens), Pill Sedge (Carex pilulifera), Glaucous Sedge (C. flacca) were all found to be plentiful especially amongst the rocks and under the quarry walls.

Bell Heather (Erica sp.)
Fox and Cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca) here put on an impressive display against the quarry wall, with Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus) and Water Horsetails (Equisetum fluviatile), Soft Rush (Juncus effusus) and Creeping Willow (Salix repens) covering the Millstone Grit of the quarry floor. The rock in this particular location is known as Huddersfield White Rock
(see Use your 'back' button to return here.
In addition Sitka Spruce (Picea sitchensis), Common Mouse-ear (Cerastium fontanum) and Broad-leaved Willowherb (Epilobium montanum) were all sharing this space.

Fox and Cubs (Pilosella aurantiaca)
Also, there were Yellow Sedge (Carex demissa), Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor), Lesser Trefoil (Trifolium dubium), Common Figwort (Scrophularia nodosa), Heath Woodrush (Luzula multiflora), Heath Rush (Juncus squarrosus), Common Vetch (Vicia sativum agg.), Black Sedge (Carex nigra), and Heath Bedstraw (Galium saxatile).

A pair of mating butterflies were Small Heath (Coenonympha pamphilusc) and a Wood Tiger Moth (Parasemia plantaginis) were found by Peter, who provided the ID.

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